IT SEEMS TO BE A TRADITION in our household that we go to the movies only once a year. We didn’t plan it that way. We are either busy, otherwise engaged or not interested in spending eight bucks to watch a remake of a film that should never have been made in the first place.
We went to the movies last week.
That is an abbreviated version of her reply. Her actual answer would have taken most of my 500 – 700 word self-imposed size limit for this blog.
TODAY’S POSTING KINDA FOLLOWS UP on the one from last Saturday about the fantasy list of what we would do if we hit it big in the lottery. When we began to compile that first wish list my wife, the lovely and adventuresome, Dawn, said, “I’d want us to go to Ireland.”
THIS MORNING I WAS SITTING and sipping my coffee after services at St. Arbucks with a collection of The Usual Suspects. The topics of conversation ranged from old TV shows to local politics, to the condition of the streets in San Francisco. Why they care, I don’t know and my info on that particular topic is at least 13 years old. But that doesn’t really matter to them I think.
And then I made a mistake.
I asked one of The Suspects, “What’s new in the wide world of firearms?”
Given the fact that this fellow is a retired Marine who has, shall we say, a gun collection. He is the person to ask about things like that. Other people might call his collection “Large enough to tip the balance of power in Central Asia.” I’ll just say it is a large collection – really large
His response to my question surprised me.
“What’s new? I don’t know. I know more about older weapons.”
Then another Suspect jumped in, asking, “What is the oldest gun you have?”
This was not a good thing to do. I had the feeling that I was going to be having lunch there.
“My oldest weapon? Why, I have a flintlock rifle from the 1800s. It was made in Italy.”
Now, I’m certainly no expert on firearms, but I don’t think that flintlocks were in active use by then. Maybe in Italy. I didn’t know for sure, but I was afraid to ask our expert.
Knowing that there was no way in Heaven that his answer about the Italian rifle was going to settle the issue – I braced myself.
“Let me tell you about that rifle…”
I knew it. I just knew it. This was going to take a while. Call home and tell your loved ones that you’ll be late.
The next five minutes were filled with a detailed account of his trouble changing the flint in this antique rifle. At least that’s what I think he described. It was hard to tell. He was using a jargon that was new to me and my brain was trying to save itself by doing the cerebral equivalent of holding its breath.
When he finished his story about the Italian flintlock rifle I knew nothing more about that weapon than when he’d started. He might as well have been speaking in Lithuanian.
I’m just grateful that things like that don’t happen very often. I don’t want to make Mr. Arsenal feel bad or unappreciated. I like him and, let’s be honest, if things go South and the Society crumbles like a stale cookie, I want to know someone like him. And I want him to like me.
I know that I have a propensity to be a bit of a smartass. I also know that, if I’m not careful, I can be a truly verbally offensive person. I don’t mean to be like that – it just happens. So, I try to watch myself. I don’t want to upset the people around me. Some of them are younger than me. Some of them are bigger than me, and some of them are considerably better armed than me.
I admit it – I am not a very exciting person. I move slowly – even more so in cold, rainy weather like today and my brain is marginally creative, operating as it does within the boundaries normally occupied by an 11 year old boy.
And I am a creature of habit.
It’s not that I don’t like change or that I am afraid to try anything new – it is that if I find something I like or that works for me I see no need to change. That can make for some very snore inducing days for those nearby.
I was reminded of my predictability this afternoon when I stopped by the Chapel at St. Arbucks to come up with about 500 – 700 words for this blog.
I pulled the Toyota into the same gimp spot that I have pulled into for years. I walked up to the counter to place my order and the young barista beats me to the punch, saying, “Venti Green tea, iced tea, unsweetened.”
I handed her my fancy-schmancy St. Arbucks card as she adds, “In the mornings you order iced coffee and in the afternoons you order iced tea.”
That pretty much sums it up. I’m a coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon kind of guy. That gal has me pegged accurately.
What would happen if I broke with tradition and ordered the tea in the morning and the coffee after lunch? Would lions lay down with the lambs? Would dogs begin to consort with cats? Would the Chicago Cubs put together a winning season?
It’s hard to tell. Maybe something – maybe nothing.
I find that there is a certain comfort in my regularity. It cuts down on my decision making time allowing me extra moments for quiet reflection on the world at large. It certainly speeds things up at St. Arbucks. There are mornings when I walk through the door and my iced coffee is already sitting on the counter waiting for me. They see me pull into the parking lot and they put it together. There have actually been a few days when more than one barista has seen me coming and there are two coffees waiting for me.
“No extra charge. Consider it your free refill.”
The only variation in this morning ritual comes about when there is someone new at the register. I give them my order and then, per their recent training, they ask me my name.
“My name is Spartacus.”
“My name is Chuck Finley.”
“My name is Heisenberg.”
I try to mix it up for them. Most days when I do that one of the experienced baristas will blow my cover.
“Don’t listen to him. His name is John.”
See? Even when I try to break out of my habitual rut somebody pulls the rug out from underneath me.
On most Friday evenings my wife, the lovely and more diversified Dawn, and I have dinner with a couple of friends. We always go to the same restaurant and sit at the same table. When it comes time for me to place my order someone will speak up for me. They are invariably correct.
A few weeks ago I surprised them all and changed my order. I said, “I’ll have what she’s having.” It was a change, but just a small one because she ordered what I usually do – but I asked for raisin toast instead of rye.
I’m a rebel.
As I write this I am seated in my usual chair at St. Arbucks. Beside my computer is my Venti, green tea, iced tea, but I set it on the left side of the table this time.
I’m trying, people. I’m trying.
I HAD TO GO TO THE BANK TODAY. Not everything is done by direct deposit. I get my monthly pension check from the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (rent the movie “Erin Brockovich”), and my wife gets paid with an honest to God paper check. So, once a month or so I toddle off to the bank. It was as I was driving away from the bank that a random molecule of memory bubbled to the surface. This all went down a couple of years before I retired. Let me explain.